Spying On Your Spouse and How It Can Backfire / by Cassandra Hearn

In today’s society, we are becoming increasingly connected through technology and social media every day. We have the ability to gather information in an instant by using our computers, tablets, or smart phones. Social media including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat all give windows into other people’s daily lives and what they are doing—sometimes even on an hourly basis. When a relationship turns sour and a marriage is disintegrating, it is natural for people to turn to this highly developed web of technology to try to dig up evidence on a soon-to-be-former spouse in order to bolster a divorce case. Many types of technological evidence are admissible in court, but parties to a family law case need to understand that spying on your spouse during a divorce case is highly inadvisable and likely to backfire.

One common way that people want to spy on their spouses is by secretly recording phone calls. However, this is not only inadmissible in your divorce case under Family Code 2022, but it could also result in criminal charges. Penal Code 631 and 632 make it a crime punishable by fines or even jail time to use any type of machine to intercept any type of phone call without the prior express permission of all of the people involved in the conversation. In other words, you cannot record the phone calls between your spouse and someone else, nor can you record your own phone calls with your spouse without his or her knowledge and consent. The same statute makes it a crime to intentionally intercept messages or communications, meaning that your attempts to hack into your spouse’s emails, using spyware on a computer owned by your spouse, or download text messages without permission could also land you in hot water.

In addition to the clear legal complications, spying on your spouse may not actually gain you any advantage in your divorce. California is a community property state, meaning each party will receive half of the marital assets and debts, regardless of fault. Moreover, proving that your spouse has been unfaithful is unlikely to give you any advantage in a custody battle.

We have experience helping our clients achieve their goals without resorting to tactics that can seriously backfire. Call us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation and we can help you understand your rights and responsibilities.